Up From The Deep is the first in Fantomah comic series by Ray Fawkes and Soo Lee, and will be published in February, 2018 by Chapterhouse.
Up From The Deep is an average start to a comic series with a not-so-surprising story line backed by impressive illustrations.
The story is loosely inspired from Fantomah—one of the first female superhero who was introduced in the Jungle Comics—and is intertwined with the Mexican legend of a ghost called La Llorana. And if you couldn’t have already guessed, the main character is famous in this series by the name of La Fantomah. The story revolves around Paz, a strong female who keeps an unemotional facade, when one day her younger twin sisters go missing. She finds herself frustratingly sad, helpless, and disappointed. Things go worse when she starts hearing prayers of those who are in trouble.
The start was strong but it failed to interest me throughout. Two-thirds had me hooked to see where this La Fantomah would head to or how this would narrow down to her story, but the other two-thirds not only bored me but also failed to develop any of the characters I could’ve cared for. There were predictable plot-twists that annoyed me in the end because literally, nothing came by as a surprise. While there are gangs and ghosts and criminals and murders, there isn’t much action. In fact, there wasn’t a good enough use of onomatopoeia either, according to me. A few scenes could’ve been elaborated with cool graphics and sound effects but there’s only so much I can ask for.
Even the characters are developed much. The supporting ones are a far-fetched option when the main character, Paz, isn’t developed herself. Nothing about her story or how she came about to be whatever she was isn’t hinted at. The paranormal aspect wasn’t worked upon, either. It’s just there and apparently, there’s nothing that the reader should wonder—at least an indication as to how it all came about to be would’ve been appreciated. Though, this is only the first volume in a series so I’m relying on the subsequent comics to get my answers about her.
While the story was okay, the illustrations were fairly good. The sketch style was different from the type I usually lean on, with the grunge colors and hard strokes, but I liked it. Some might think of the style as rough and not polished but given the setting this was aiming for, it worked—dark hues and bold scribbles. Overall, I definitely liked it but it could have been better in terms of the ideas and writing.
Ray Fawkes is a Toronto-based fine artist and writer of comics, graphic novels, prose fiction, and games. Ray’s work ranges in styles from introspective, dreamscape narrative to bombastic slapstick. He is an Eisner, Harvey, and three-time Shuster Award nominee, and a YALSA award winner for “Possessions Book One: Unclean Getaway”. His recent book, “One Soul”, debuted in July 2011 to critical acclaim, including a starred booklist review, and was nominated for the 2012 Eisner award and 2012 Harvey award.
I received a digital copy of this via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Diamond Books and Ray Fawkes!